Two and a half years ago Graeme Dott was so distraught with the state of his game that he snapped his cue in half at a motorway service station on the M6 when returning from the Welsh Open.
It led the pint-sized Scot to quip “My next match was against Drew Henry and I couldn’t have beaten Lenny Henry.”
Dott linked up with top coach Del Hill in a bid to reconstruct his game and remarkably within three months he had reached the world final, only to lose 18-8 to Ronnie O’Sullivan.
Now twenty-eight-year-old Dott’s rehabilitation from those dark days is complete as he lifted the 888.com World Championship crown for the first time by overcoming Peter Ebdon 18-14 in a gruelling and punishing final.
Ebdon launched a gutsy comeback from 15-7 down in the final session when he appeared to be dead and buried before finally succumbing to the 2004 runner-up.
Dott, an 80-1 outsider at the start of the tournament, figured with Ebdon in the longest televised frame in history before finally triumphing in the 27th after 74 minutes and eight seconds.
It surpassed the previous slowest at the Crucible of 69 minutes by Dennis Taylor and Steve Davis in the deciding frame of their 1985 epic which ended at 12.19am.
And it also overtook the longest in any televised event of 73 minutes by Dean O’Kane and Steve Davis in the World Team Cup in 1989.
The finish at 12.52am was also the latest for a Crucible final after the Davis-Taylor confrontation had been concluded at 12.19am.
The final may not have been a classic confrontation and in the opening session perhaps snoozer rather than snooker may have been a more appropriate description with the auditorium at less than its 900-strong capacity.
But that should not detract from the performance of Rangers supporter Dott who did not score heavily throughout the final but produced a strong all-round game.
He kept Ebdon off the table for lengthy periods and the Dubai-based player was often let down by his poor safety play until his dogged but ultimately vain revival.
Dott’s performance has rocketed him into fifth spot in the WPBSA rankings for next season – a rise of eight places.
And Dott now hopes he will be given the credit he feels entitled to after living in the shadows of north-of-the-border rivals Stephen Hendry and John Higgins.
Ebdon had put great preparation into these championships and was only reunited with his children on Saturday after six weeks but he knows he under-achieved over the two days of the final until the closing stages.
But he showed tremendous resilience in the closing frames to give Dott an almighty fright before he captured the trophy and the £200,000 first prize.
Ebdon had to make an instant impact if he was to have any hope of clawing his way back into the match and he made the perfect start.
He showed his mettle with a superb 117 clearance – the first century of the final.
Dott looked favourite to win the next but after compiling 51 he missed a black off its spot and a 32 clearance from Ebdon proved sufficient despite a kick on the green.
Dott was suddenly looking less assured and Ebdon chalked up a third successive frame with a superb long red paving the way for a decisive 33 to the yellow.
Dott needed to stop the rot but he broke down on 37 in frame 26 when missing a cut on a red into the black pocket.
Ebdon was now oozing confidence and a 66 to the pink completed the pre-interval whitewash and left his opponent with plenty to think about.
Then came the marathon frame which ended in Ebdon’s favour and he looked to be gathering momentum as a run of 84 cut his deficit to 15-13.
Dott stopped a six-frame losing streak with a 66 in frame 29 only for Ebdon to again reduce the gap to two frames.
But Dott held his nerve with a superb 68 clearance to pinch the next and finally achieved his dream 25 minutes later.